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The world in brief: Pope returns to Vatican from hospital

by Compiled by Democrat-Gazette Staff From Wire Reports | April 2, 2023 at 2:48 a.m.
Pope Francis autographs the plaster cast of a child Saturday as he leaves the Agostino Gemelli University Hospital in Rome, after receiving treatment for bronchitis, the Vatican said. (AP/Gregorio Borgia)

Pope returns to Vatican from hospital

ROME -- Pope Francis returned to the Vatican on Saturday morning after a three-day hospital stay during which he was treated for bronchitis, raising new concerns about the health of the aging pontiff, who had major surgery in 2021 and now often uses a cane or a wheelchair because of knee problems and sciatica.

Francis, 86, left the Policlinico A. Gemelli hospital in Rome about 10:30 a.m. He was admitted on Wednesday afternoon.

Before leaving the hospital grounds, Francis got out of the white Fiat 500 that would take him to the Vatican to thank journalists for their work and to greet well-wishers, who cheered and waved hello. He signed the cast of a boy who had broken his arm playing soccer, and he prayed with a couple whose daughter had just died.

Francis, asked how he was feeling, replied, smiling, "Still alive, you know," according to a video posted on Twitter by CNN's Vatican correspondent.

He had never felt afraid, Francis told the journalists.

He also spoke of his visit to young oncology patients at the hospital. "It's the best thing, when you're a priest, being a priest, being a pastor," he said. And he praised the work of the medical staff. "You have to be heroic" to work in a hospital, he said. "And you need tenderness."

After leaving the hospital, Francis went to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, where he prayed before a venerated icon of the Virgin Mary, a Vatican spokesperson, Matteo Bruni, said in a statement.

Women-run Afghan radio station shut

JALALABAD, Afghanistan -- A women-run radio station in Afghanistan's northeast has been shut down for playing music during the holy month of Ramadan, a Taliban official said Saturday.

Sadai Banowan, which means women's voice in Dari, is Afghanistan's only women-run station and started 10 years ago. It has eight staff members, six of them female.

Moezuddin Ahmadi, the director for Information and Culture in Badakhshan province, said the station violated the "laws and regulations of the Islamic Emirate" several times by broadcasting songs and music during Ramadan and was shuttered because of the breach.

"If this radio station accepts the policy of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and gives a guarantee that it will not repeat such a thing again, we will allow it to operate again," said Ahmadi.

Station head Najia Sorosh denied there was any violation, saying there was no need for the closure and called it a conspiracy. The Taliban "told us that you have broadcast music. We have not broadcast any kind of music," she said.

Sorosh said at 11:40 a.m. Thursday representatives from the Ministry of Information and Culture and the Vice and Virtue Directorate arrived at the station and shut it down. She said station staff members have contacted Vice and Virtue but officials there said they do not have any additional information about the closing.

Norway will evacuate avalanche area

HELSINKI -- Norwegian authorities said Saturday that they would evacuate an area in northern Norway where avalanches and landslides have killed four people, including tourists from Slovenia and Italy.

Norwegian police tweeted that the decision was based on a recommendation from the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute and would affect several parts of the Arctic municipality of Tromsoe.

Four people died and one person was critically injured in three separate avalanches in the area Friday.

Norwegian news agency NTB said a ski tourist group from Slovenia was caught in the middle of an avalanche, and one of its members -- a man in his 40s -- was killed. An Italian male skier in his 30s and a Norwegian man and woman in their 60s also died, the agency said.

Police said a house and a barn were dragged into the sea, and several roads were cut.

New avalanches and landslides were reported in the Tromsoe area Saturday.

Attackers kill Sikh, Christian in Pakistan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- A Pakistani Sikh businessman and a Christian cleaner were shot dead by unknown assailants in separate incidents in the northwestern city of Peshawar, police said Saturday.

Gunmen on a motorbike opened fire on Sikh shop owner Dayal Singh when he was in his grocery store and fled the scene, said police officer Haroon Rasheed. He said an investigation was underway.

Rasheed said police have found evidence from surveillance camera footage and will soon be able to identify the gunmen.

Ranveer Singh, a representative of Pakistan's minority Sikh community, said the businessman had no problems with anyone. He said Sikhs are feeling insecure as 11 members of their community have been killed in recent years.

The minister for information and religious minorities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where Peshawar is located, assured Sikhs the culprits will be arrested and there will be steps to protect minorities. Feroze Jamal Shah Kakakhel also announced compensation of 500,000 rupees for Singh's family.

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